13 October 2014

Cheapskates Style Cleaning

I'm the first to admit that I am not a great housekeeper. I'm not terrible at it but I'm not fantastic either. I like our home to be homely and comfortable, not display home pristine clean and tidy. But I don't like a big mess either. Yes, you can just call me hard to please!

Anyway to keep our home clean and at least liveable, we have some simple routines. I have found that cleaning up as we go makes life much easier – that was a real duh! moment.

I've also found that old adage “if the kitchen's clean and the beds are made then the house is tidy” is almost true! If the kitchen is clean, the beds are made and the washing is put away then our home is tidy and I won't panic if the doorbell rings.

Cleaning, if done regularly doesn't take long. I've also discovered over the years that having a different product for each job is not only expensive but it's time consuming as well. Trying to figure out which spray or detergent to use for what job can take ages.

So here are my basic cleaning products:
White vinegar
Bicarb soda
Eucalyptus oil
Washing soda
Laundry soap or dishwashing detergent
Micro fibre cloths – one for cleaning windows and glass, one for general cleaning
Old towels, socks and sheets to make dusters and polishing rags

Since first trying micro-fibre cleaning cloths about three years ago I've fallen in love with them. I've tried the expensive brands (Enjo and the less expensive Sabco) and I've tried the cheaper brands (Mr Clean, from dollar shops). Honestly, the cheaper brands have worked just as well for me as the more expensive. Yes, it's true they don't last as long. But recommendations are that the more expensive brands need to be replaced every twelve months if they are used regularly. I've been able to get 4 – 6 months out of the cheaper brands before I've had to replace them. At just $2 each they cost around $8 a year, still a saving on the more expensive brands.

Micro fibre cleaning cloths are just fantastic if you have allergies or are environmentally conscious. They use cold water and the cloth to clean like magic. The trick is to remember to use cold water. Hot water causes any grease on the surface you're cleaning to soften and spread rather than stick to the fibres in the cloth.

I use a micro fibre cloth to clean our glass dining table and wall unit each week. It also does the bathroom mirrors, the family room door, the mirror on Hannah's dressing table and the sidelight by the front door. It's so quick and easy I don't mind doing them every week. And they are always streak free.

To wash the rest of the windows I use a soft broom, a squeegee and a bucket of warm water with a splash of shampoo in it. I slosh the broom in the water, rub it back and forth over the window and the window frame and then squeegee it off for a streak free view. On the inside I use an old towel and the squeegee. Hint: wash your windows on a cloudy day, you'll avoid streaks.

A squeegee is great for cleaning the shower too. Again microfibre cloths are brilliant. But if you don't have a microfibre cloth try this method. Gently scrub over the tiles, screen and shower floor with a dry nylon scourer. Then wet a soft cloth, add a splash of shampoo and wipe over the shower. Rinse off with cool water and squeegee dry. Your shower will sparkle.

To maintain that sparkle, squeegee the shower after it's been used and then give it a spray of vinegar. You'll slow down the build-up of soap scum and hinder the growth of mould and mildew.
To keep your wooden floors sparkling clean Sharon Elliott recommends ½ cup kerosene in a large bucket of hot water. Sharon says this cuts through the dirt, grease and dust faster and better than any commercial product she's tried. She also suggests applying kerosene to your broom bristles to make a “magnetic” broom that the dirt and dust just flys to.

While the wooden floors are drying you can be freshening and cleaning the carpets. Before you vacuum sprinkle the carpets with bi-carb soda to deodorize them. I use one of those plastic sugar shakers because it has the larger holes in it and it makes the sprinkling easier. Let it sit for ten minutes or so then vacuum right up.

And while we're on the topic of deodorizing, vinegar is great for absorbing odours. If you've had a party or the dogs been inside or the house has been shut up and is musty put a small bowl of white vinegar in a corner. Leave it overnight and it will absorb the odours. Even your furniture will smell better.

To keep your jewellery sparkling and bright (who doesn't admire the dazzle of gold and diamonds?) Kateo from Scarborough in Western Australia suggests soaking your jewellery in Coke. “Why spend dollars on jewellery cleaner when all you need is a bottle of Coca Cola and an old toothbrush! To clean gold (it must be real gold) just put the jewellery in a bowl and cover with Coke. Leave it soak for about 15 minutes then scrub the jewellery with a toothbrush to get into those hard to reach areas. Rinse in warm water and dry with a soft tea towel. It will leave them looking shiny and brand new. Great for cleaning necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings. No damage to your jewellery and on a budget. Happy cleaning.”

And my best cleaning tip: let it soak. Whether it's pots and pans, dirty clothes or even the kitchen floor, letting it soak for a few minutes before you start cleaning will make the job so much easier.

Fill the pots with warm water and a squirt of detergent and let them soak while you eat.

Fill the washing machine and let the load soak overnight. Run the cycle first thing the next morning. You'll find you won't need as much detergent or pre-treatments and your clothes will actually be cleaner.

Sweep your kitchen floor and then slop the soapy water over it. Let it sit for about five minutes and then mop. It will sparkle and shine. Polish build up, dirt and grime build up in the grooves and dips of the texture will just melt.

These are just quick little things that save you so much money, time and energy you may even come to like cleaning. 

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